How does a home test for sleep apnea work?

This question was asked in Dallas, Georgia on 06/03/2013.
Can my husband be tested at home study and then get a release so his trucking company can put him on the road making money? Is it cheaper for a home study? How does the referral process work when you get tested for sleep apnea for a home study?

Doctors Answers (4)

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 6/21/2013

At our clinic, you come in for a 1 hour appointment. We educate you and your bed partner if possible and then demonstrate how to use the device at home. You apply the device prior to going to bed, push the button and simply turn it off the next morning and remove the sensors. Return it promptly and your results are back in 24 hours.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/12/2013

Home Sleep Testing (HST) is basically to screen for obstructive sleep apnea. The following is often attached to the interpretation of HST. This Home Sleep Test (HST) is basically a screening tool for obstructive sleep apnea. This HST does not include the measurement of other potentially important data which are a component of an "in-lab" attended sleep study. This HST does not include the measurement of central sleep apnea, a detailed depiction of sleep stages (sleep architecture) which are commonly affected by several sleep disorders, limb movements (PLMS) and other parasomnias such as sleep walking, dream enactment or seizures. HST is less expensive than an attended study in a sleep lab but there are obvious limitations. If you are just considering sleep apnea then he could see his primary care doctor who can either refer him for a HST or send him to a sleep specialist. If the HST reveals sleep apnea it is then best to undergo an attended sleep study in a sleep lab to see if he is best suited for a CPAP or a bi-level machine. The bi-level units provide one pressure for inhaling and a reduced pressure for when he exhales. If he has sleep apnea, he would most likely need to be treated for his sleep apnea before he can drive a truck and any daytime sleepiness should be controlled as well.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 6/4/2013 1

Home studies were designed to improve access to sleep services. Particularly in the areas where sleep labs are located remotely and/or there is long waiting time. Home studies may provide some information about sleep patterns and diagnose sleep apnea in some cases but their use is limited due to no professional supervision during the test. For example if an oxygen sensor falls off, this may look as if the patient had an episode of drop in oxygen in the blood such as can be seen during a pause in breathing which in this scenario is wrong- it is just a sensor problem. There are some other issues and in my opinion home studies should be avoided when possible to avoid misdiagnosis. I do not know details of your husbands case- was he diagnosed with sleep apnea already? If so, he may need to be treated with CPAP and then have a daytime test- so called MWT- which can be done in a sleep lab only- to confirm that he is no longer sleepy during the day and then your sleep doctor would be able to sign his release forms for his job. If his job wants to rule out sleep apnea/ sleep disorder then a regular sleep test, polysomnography, should be performed first and again I would recommend to avoid home study. Either way the best approach is to see a doctor who would be signing his release forms and discuss all options and get referrals for appropriate testing. As far as the price, home study may cost less but if further testing is needed due to home study limitation, the total price may become higher. If the sleep lab is going to work with you to minimize your cost like we do in our center it may be helpful but again the most important thing is to do appropriate testing from the beginning to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment so your husband can get back on the road as soon as possible. Best of luck to you.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 6/4/2013 1

Home testing for sleep apnea is very effective in many situations. It is advised however that the determination for a home sleep study versus an in-lab test be made by a qualified physician. The cost of the home test may also vary from facility to facility based on the type of home testing technology utilized. Contact your local sleep disorder center for more information.